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make you dirty, make me clean

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The House did not have a name.

That was something strange, Marta mused as she sat on her favorite balcony, sipping her favorite coffee out of her new favorite mug. Usually big old country houses had names, like Eaglehart Manor or Lake Run or Rivendell (no, wait, that was from Lord of the Rings), but this one didn't. She supposed she'd probably have to name it something if she wanted to pass it on to her kids, if she ever had any; it sure as fuck wasn't going to go to the Thrombeys or their extended brood after she'd kicked it.

She'd had extensive private security on the grounds for months—almost a full year, actually, after the initial official Moving-In Date and they'd definitely ran across some sketchy characters trying to sneak around the borders of the property. A fence had gone up, then had to be topped with some electric wiring, and once that had started being patrolled by guys with dogs they'd stopped seeing any trace of the Thrombeys.

Cute dogs, though. Not as cute guys: they reminded Marta too much of shit she saw on the news, walls, kids in cages, uniformed assholes who Only Took Orders, and even though the dogs were cute she eventually let the guys go. It wasn't worth Mama having so much anxiety over, and even though they'd gotten all her paperwork done and in order and she was a bonafide citizen now, that old fear still lingered, as it had a perfect right to. Alicia had decided to move out a couple months back, stating she wasn't going to live in a creepy old house like this, full of "spooky dolls and shit" but they were covered on her tuition costs and the costs of her own apartment, so that was nice. Mama lived in the whole east wing, and at first they'd tried to run the place on their own, but quickly figured out that unless they wanted to spend every second of the day cleaning, they probably needed help, so help was hired: two maids who came in weekly. Mama refused to let anyone but herself touch the gleaming, top of the line range in the kitchen, so a cook was out of the question.

One thing they did kind of need was a gardener, though. The place was rambling and huge and with every passing day the New England countryside threatened to swallow the walls, encroaching ever further. Marta looked at it and thought she might have known what the Puritans saw when they looked into the forest: she could almost believe the Devil was lurking in the shadow of the trees. Even Mama would mutter and cross herself after a peek out the windows during the rain. It was fucking spooky.

Anyway, the Thrombeys had run off with their tails tucked between their legs: Joni off to California with Meg in tow, Linda back to New York without her estranged husband (the divorce was going well, last Marta had heard), Walt had gone to Texas with Donna and that little chinless creep Jacob (Marta had taken some pleasure in making fake Twitter accounts and reminding him every time he tweeted about "preserving Western civilization" that his grandpa had left all his money to an immigrant, and she didn't even care that he blocked her every time; she could make new ones as fast as he could smash that button, and she had endless time on her hands now). The only remaining scion of the Thrombey family was That Asshole, who she refused to even acknowledge with a name in her mind: he was simply That Asshole, that Sweater-Wearing, Smirking, Murderous Fucking Asshole, and past being delighted that he'd earned a twenty-year prison sentence, he definitely did not enter her thoughts. It should have been way more, like, way more, in Marta's opinion, but he'd had expensive lawyers, thrown at him by Linda and Richard.

She'd seen him at the trial, since she'd been called as a witness on a couple of separate occasions, and gotten a great view of him in his bright orange jumpsuit, handcuffed and chained to the table. His beard had grown out, but his hair was still combed perfectly, the dark brown sheen gleaming in the courtroom fluorescents, and she'd had to take a moment before being cross-examined.

The attorney trying to examine her had found himself completely stumped against her inability to be dishonest coupled with her self-assuredness, which she owned that day, because, hey, she had on a brand new outfit for this trial that she definitely hadn't bought as a big fat Fuck You, It's Still My Money to That Asshole and to Linda and to Richard, who sat on opposite sides of the courtroom, and no, she was not going to puke on it today. And after all, that had been for the best, because the judge and jury found Hugh Ransom Drysdale guilty on two of his three charges and sentenced to twenty years.

Marta hadn't seen him since that day, two years ago, and she was fine with that. Really. She was. She hated his guts, and absolutely did not find him attractive in any way whatsoever. She'd often found herself, at some of the parties that Harlan had thrown, playing a silent game with herself called "is that white dude hot, or is he just tall and rich?" and nine out of ten times, well. Anyway, why the hell was she sitting out here on the balcony with a now-empty mug when she had more coffee inside?

Going back in was like entering a warm, silent cave. The carpet muffled her footsteps and the still-gaudy eighties wallpaper smothered the hall in florid overdecoration. Marta had wanted to get the whole interior redesigned, but had come to actually like the over-the-top décor. It reminded her of Harlan. The only thing changed had been the bedroom she'd picked for herself, in the west wing. She drifted down the back stairs, down to the front hall, and to the kitchen, where more coffee was waiting in the French press amid the homey smells of Mama's cooking.

"Oh, good," said Mama, seeing her. "I was about to call you down. Your Tia Gloria is sick and I'm going to visit her in Florida for two weeks. You'll be okay here by yourself?"

Marta set her mug on the counter. "Tia Gloria? She's always sick. Last month it was a cold, and she swore up and down she had pneumonia and was dying."

"Well, this time she has a real doctor, not one of those idiot college students she gets to make the notes for the pharmacy, and he says she has acute bronchitis, so I am going down."

"Okay. When are you leaving?"

"Flight is tonight. You should buy a private jet. It would be so much easier."

Marta sighed. "Mama, we've discussed this. Private jet means money for gas and for a pilot and for people to make sure it's always working, and rental space for a hangar."

"You have money, Marta."

"Not private jet money. I have a publishing business to run, too, in case you forgot. It's not gonna kill you to fly first class on a commercial flight."

"First class. You spoil me," said Mama, still smiling, and kissed her daughter's head. "Okay. Alicia is going to come by and get me in four hours. Behave. No parties, no boys."


To the question "but what am I going to do in a house by myself for two weeks?" there had used to be an answer, and that answer had been, "go to work, make myself dinner, watch Hulu for an hour, and pass out" until she'd found herself living here. Now, Marta mostly lounged around, worked out when she wanted to, read, drifted through the halls pretending to be a woman from the 1890s whose husband had tragically died, and experimented with Tasty recipes off Buzzfeed's Instagram. Now that she could afford to fuck up an omelette, it was fun to try new things, and it was also weirdly liberating to have the money to not have to do anything she didn't want to do.

An hour after Mama had left, she was standing in the kitchen listening to Lizzo and wearing flannel pajama pants and a tattered old Henley, and she had just flipped a pancake perfectly, when a tentative knock on the kitchen door startled her out of her impromptu Martha Stewart impression. She went to the door and opened it to the sounds of the dogs barking.

He was standing there. Him, that Fucking Sweater-Wearing Asshole of the Hundredth Degree, wearing the same stupid cashmere sweater he'd worn the day he was arrested (not that she'd paid any attention to anything he ever wore, and definitely not those figure-hugging sweaters) and his jeans, and his six hundred dollar boots, and Marta's first reaction was to haul off and punch him right in his perfect, horrible nose.

Hugh Ransom Drysdale choked and staggered against the door frame, blood leaking from his nose and dribbling over his cream-colored sweater. "Fuck," he rasped through his hands. "Yeah, okay, I kinda did have that one coming."

"I have a fucking restraining order, you son of a bitch. You're supposed to be in prison." Marta shook her hand furiously and snatched her phone out of her back pocket, and Ransom jerked back upright and spat blood out into the shrubbery.

"Hey, hey, hey. Wait. Hold on. Don’t—don't call the cops, okay? I'm on probation. I swear to God. Look." He yanked a piece of paper out of his back pocket and thrust it at her, and she opened it, incredulously reading the print on the paper.

It was real. He was on early release, some bullshit about good behavior and a good ethic in prison and holy shit, Marta had never wanted to kill anyone more. "I hope you can afford to pay your lawyers for the work they did to get you this," she snapped.

"I did that work myself," Ransom fired back, and as he leaned into the light from the kitchen she noted that he looked haggard, rough around the edges, none of the plush smoothness that hundred-dollar moisturizers and a life of leisure had afforded him. He even had stubble, as if he'd shaved a couple days ago, and Marta was no Benoit Blanc, but she figured that he'd gotten released at least a week ago, and since then been without a razor—or access to a shower, she mentally amended as she caught a whiff of him. He smelled sour and stale and rank with BO, and yet he was still standing here clinging to his pride in his good behavior.

Marta picked up the knife she'd been using to cut onions and pointed it at him. "You get ten seconds to explain why you're on my doorstep. Starting now."

"Okay, look," he said, spreading his hands. "I don't have anywhere to go. My parents split up, Mom thinks I need a tough life lesson and Dad thinks I'm a failure, and they gave me a measly two hundred for food and bus fare before shoving me out their doors."

"All of which does not explain why you are at my kitchen door knocking after you tried to murder me," spat Marta.

Ransom gave her a sideways look. "You're still mad about that?"

"Why are you here?"

"I—" His face fell slightly, and he looked off to the side, half-mumbling. "I need a job."

Oh, sweet satisfaction. "What was that? Couldn't hear you."

"I said," Ransom said, a little louder, "I need a job."

She could still call the police. He might still try to kill her—although it would be out of pure spite, not like he hadn't tried before, but hey. She could call the cops, or she could stab him and claim self-defense, or—and this or was very, very tempting—she could give him a terrible, disgusting, dirty job, like chimney-sweeping or dog poop cleaning, and take  glorious two weeks of pure satisfaction watching Ransom Drysdale performing manual labor under her nose, indebted to her.

Maybe she understood why rich people were assholes. Having someone terrible owe you something was the best feeling ever, which was probably why, against her better judgement, she stepped back. "Okay. You need a job? I need someone to spread about a thousand pounds of manure in the east rosebushes tomorrow morning."

Ransom blinked at her as if he wasn't sure if she was joking or not. "What's the pay?"

Marta managed to keep a perfectly straight face. "You get to live in the gardener's quarters above the gardening shed. It even has running water and plumbing. And you'll get to stay there, if I'm satisfied with your work. If I'm not, you might have to sleep in the attic, and it is October, so."

She watched as a war between pride and the desire to not be homeless played out on Ransom's face, and his shoulders finally sagged. "Fine. I accept."

Marta pointed at the stove with her knife. "If you want some of these pancakes, you better take your shoes off and come in."

"Take my shoes off? What is this, Japan?" Ransom stepped a filthy, mud-caked shoe into the kitchen and yelped in indignation as Marta whapped the side of his head with a towel a millisecond later.

"I said take your shoes off, you fucking barbarian. My mom just mopped this floor."

"Jesus! Fine." He slid out of his shoes, leaving them outside, and slunk to the stovetop in his socks while she followed behind.


After he'd been fed and shoved back out the door with the key to the gardener's shed, Marta locked every door in the house, called the nearest landscaping company and ordered enough manure to seemingly blanket the house, then went to bed. From her window, she could see the gardener's shed, a single light on in the attic space. Out of curiosity, she padded out of bed and watched: it wasn't too far, and she could see Ransom peeling out of his dirty clothes layer by layer, then stood up, bare to the waist.

She had seen Ransom Drysdale without a shirt twice: once at a summer pool party, and once by accident when she'd been coming into the house after some cocktail thing and found him necking with a girl in the hallway, both of them half-undressed. The woman had been some… aspiring author, Marta thought, trying to remember, and thought Ransom was a good way in to getting her vampire mystery book published, but unluckily for her, Ransom never truly gave a shit about anything but getting his dick wet when it came to hookups. Both times, she'd seen sculpted, perfect planes of muscle born out of long gym hours and supplements, and had rolled her eyes and walked away to hide the flush of embarrassment on her cheeks.

Now, though, as Marta looked out her window and into his, she could see that his body had changed to something leaner, something tougher. She hadn't known what she'd expected—prison tats? It wasn't too far of a stretch to assume he'd fallen in with those white nationalist prison gangs—but from what she could see, there was no ink.

What am I doing? Marta backed away from the window. She was fucking ogling a man who'd tried to murder her in cold blood in front of witnesses. Quickly, she got back into bed, yanking the covers back up over her head…and gripping the kitchen knife she'd brought up, under her pillow. Just in case.


The next morning dawned just as overcast as the previous one. Marta stood on the balcony after signing for the manure, wrapped in a cashmere blanket, and watched Ransom shovel load after load of cow shit into the flowerbeds in hideous navy coveralls.

It smelled like shit, and it tasted like victory.


The week drew on. Ransom made a point out of not looking at her, focusing completely on every single thing he was told to do, and performing his duties with as much care as he had used to treat his Beemer. He even detailed her car, which she hadn't known he knew how to do, and pressure-washed the back steps, and when she looked down her nose at him and ordered him to take the dogs for a walk he did that too, struggling with the leashes as the animals tried to nip at him. After a couple of days, the vindication didn't feel good anymore. She just felt like she was punching down, and wasn't that a weird feeling, after so many years of being stepped on and overlooked? But there was Ransom, scruffy and haggard and trying his best, and if he looked at her directly at all it was with an expression she couldn't quite figure out.

On Saturday, Marta gave up. It was raining, and he was outside weeding one of the rose beds, and she stepped out with an umbrella on the back porch. "Get inside," she called out.

He looked at her blankly, soaked to the skin, and holding a clump of muddy weeds in his left hand. "What?" he shouted back.

"Inside, you dumbass. It's pouring."

Ransom didn't wait to be told twice. He dropped the weeds and hurried over to the porch, water dripping out of his hair as he edged past her like a dog trying to come in from the rain. Marta followed him and popped the umbrella shut. "You're getting my floor dirty. Now my feet are gonna be dirty."

"You want me to lick them clean?" Ransom shot back at her, a touch of the old attitude leaking through, and as the words left his mouth Marta found herself spiraling into a mental pit completely full of the things she wanted him to touch with his mouth, and went red to the ears with shame.

"You wanna go back outside in the rain and go sleep in the shed?" she spat, not angrily enough to stop him from tilting his head and giving her That Look, the look he gave people when he'd figured them out.

"No. You wanna send me out there?"

"I just fucking might, if you keep being a—a—dirty fucking pig."

The effect those words had on Ransom was incredible. He went pale, then flushed deep crimson before he took a step away from her and leaned on the counter top before spitting out, "Don't you  ever call me that again."

And Marta, slightly dizzy with whatever new weapon she suddenly found herself possessing, remembered the day she'd stumbled into a conversation in the library, something between Walt and Richard about Ransom spending thousands on some financial domination website, and then she said the fateful seven words that sealed what happened next for eternity.

"Give me your fucking money, dirty boy."

Ransom yanked himself off the counter and flopped over to stare at her, looking like he'd been punched in the gut. "What did you just—"

"You heard me. The rest of your two hundred that Mommy and Daddy gave you for bus fare. Give it to me."

His face was really an incredible shade of red. "It was four hundred. Two hundred each," he stammered.

Marta extended her hand out, palm up. "Even better. Give me the rest of it. Now."

Ransom's hands dug into his pockets and out came a worn wallet, and out of the wallet came a fifty, a twenty, and a handful of fives and ones that slapped down into Marta's hand. "There," he said hoarsely.

"You had four hundred and you spent three-twenty on fucking bus fare and food?" Marta pocketed the cash. "Jesus. You're fucking dumb as shit, you know that?"

"I know," he blurted out, ears red. "I know, I'm stupid, I'm a dumb fucking rich spoiled asshole—"

She raised an eyebrow. "Don't forget arrogant and cocky. Oh, and the part about arson and murder. You're so lucky I let you stay here, when I could call the cops any minute on you for violating your parole."

"Don't," he whispered, real fear in his eyes. "Marta."

Levelling with his gaze, she hissed, "That's Ms. Cabrera to you, you dirty, murderous little pig. I have half a mind to make you give me every last penny and have you sleep in the rain. I don't even make the dogs sleep outside." Ransom's face twisted into a grimace, and before she knew what was happening, he let out a hoarse little cry, hips jerking against the counter as his knuckled turned white in their grip. It took a moment, but a wet stain began to seep through the gusset of the coveralls, and Marta fixed him with the most disgusted look she could muster. "Did you just come in your pants?"

"I never claimed to have great self-control," he muttered, shooting her a sideways look. "Are you...are you gonna kick me out?"

For the life of her, Marta didn't know why she said, "No. Go upstairs and get a shower. And shave."

"Okay."

"And then go into the bedroom on the second floor, end of the hall, and wait."

"Oh—okay," he said, almost stumbling over his own feet in an effort to get to the door.


"There's going to be some ground rules," said Marta, sitting on the armchair in her bedroom that she liked the most. She'd frantically changed into a robe and nothing else, but he didn't need to know that. Ransom sat on the other chair, half on the edge, alert and hyperaware in a towel and nothing else, his clean-shaven face looking so like the old Ransom that she found it a little hard to focus.

"Right," he said, knee bouncing.

Marta leveled him with a look. "You don't sleep in here with me. You don't sleep in the house. I don't trust you to."

Ransom nodded tightly. "Okay. What else?"

She chewed on her lip. "I'm in charge. You don't ever get on top of me, or fuck me. I do what I want to you, and you take it." Ransom inhaled raggedly, his eyes dilating. "Is that—"

"Yes, that’s good, that's okay."

"One last thing. You don't get to come until I say you can."

His shuddering exhale was loud enough to fill the room. "Jesus Christ," he said. "Who'd have thought you had it in you?"

"You never bothered to see what I had in me," she shot back. "You don't even know where I'm fucking from."

He tilted his head just so, seemingly weighing his options. "Okay. Where are you—"

"No. You don't get to ask me that. Get on the fucking bed."

Ransom stood, his body gleaming in the light from the bedside lamp, and walked to the bed, resentment pouring from every line of his leaned-out body. "I'm trying to be nice," he said, sitting on the edge of it with the towel still tucked around his hips.

"No, you're trying to make yourself feel better. Like you're a good person. But you're not." Marta stood and walked to the bed, pushing him onto his back as she straddled his hips. "You're a fucking asshole, Hugh Ransom Drysdale."

He squinted up at her. "Yeah? So what does that make you?"

She slapped him. Hard enough to leave a red mark on his cheek, and hard enough to get a choked, angry noise out of him, but not hard enough to bruise. "I didn't ask you for your opinion," she snapped, and shifted her hips to find a very obvious erection somewhere under the towel, pressing into her thigh. "You like getting smacked, huh?"

Ransom glared up at her. "Oh, fuck you," he said, his damp hair falling over his eyes. "I don't have to take this."

"Yeah, you fucking do, if you want a place to live and a roof over your head and food." Marta didn’t wait for him to respond, but crawled up his body so that her knees were planted by his head. "I assume you know how to eat pussy."

His blue eyes were almost black, his eyes were so dilated. "Of course I know how to eat a woman out. I'm not a total idiot."

Marta raised an eyebrow. "Good. Get to work. Don't use your hands. And if you say a single fucking thing about 'spicy Latina coochie' I'm kicking you into the yard buck naked."

"Oh, God," he said, sounding strangled, and then her hips were tilted over his head and he had disappeared into the folds of her robe, and his mouth was on her like she was the only food in a desert.

Marta prided herself on being good at controlling her emotions. It was a necessary skill to navigate the world as a woman of color, and even more necessary when in close proximity to the Thrombey family. There was a difference between masking your true thoughts and lying, so she'd never had issues with puking over it, but now, with Ransom Drysdale's tongue slipping into places she'd forgotten she'd had, she was finding it very hard to act like he was doing a mediocre job.

"Oh, my God," she whimpered instead, jerking her pelvis forward. His nose mashed into her clit, and she squeaked as a jolt of sensation shot up her body. Why the hell did this feel so good?

"Mmm," said Ransom, his lips opening somewhere under her robe. One large hand tentatively slipped up past her knee, and she slapped it away, her eyes fluttering open.

"I said you don't get to touch me," she gasped, breathless. "Not until you make me come."

Ransom huffed warm air across her bare skin and redoubled his efforts, licking, moving, sucking. Marta clamped her teeth down on her bottom lip, determined to not make a single sound of satisfaction, but somehow his tongue had found her clit and he was pushing it hard back and forth. She held on as long as she could, but finally let go, and let out a single little gasp as she crested her peak and came crashing down across Ransom's cheeks and mouth, her thighs tightening on either side of his head.

When the world had stopped being an explosion of technicolor confetti and her heartbeat had returned to something passably normal, she rolled off him, and he emerged, red in the face and very damp, from under her robe. "I guess it's been a while," he said, tongue flicking out across his lips as if he liked her taste.

"Shut up," she said, but there was no real heat in her voice. "Do it again. Use your hands this time."

He dutifully rolled to his knees and thumbed at her swollen flesh, slipping his index finger in, then his middle. He had. He had. Very big fingers. Marta clutched her comforter in both fists. "I've wanted to do this for a while," he said quietly, eyes fixed on where his fingers were going and not on her face. Marta sucked in some air in a hitching little gasp. "Probably since, uh, the second time I met you. You had on that—that button-down blue shirt you probably got off a clearance rack somewhere, and you looked—you looked—"

"This sentence better end in a compliment," Marta panted, staring at the ceiling.

Ransom's hand began to pump gently, and she made a noise she definitely hadn't wanted to make. "You looked good and clean and pure and nothing like anyone I'd ever met, and I wanted—part of me wanted to make you dirty like the rest of us and the rest of me wanted you to make me clean. Like. To—to get inside you, make it rub off on me, it pissed me off so much—"

"I'm not a fucking Brillo pad," she gasped, one thigh straining with effort. "And I don't care what you want."

Ransom's jaw clenched, the muscle under his eye twitching, and he added another finger, making Marta gasp and buck her hips. "Tell me you hate me," he whispered, his other hand creeping up her belly, toward her chest. "Tell me I'm shit, tell me I'm—"

"I hate your guts," she panted, eyes squeezed shut as she rocketed toward Orgasm Number Two. "I fucking hate you, you cocky asshole, you spoiled rich idiot, you shithead, you—" It hit like a freight train this time, and she shrieked through it, clapping her thighs together and trapping his hand where it was until she was finished, and Ransom watched her avidly, as if he couldn't get enough of every little micro-expression on her face. As the endorphins all ebbed away, she sat up, feeling vaguely unsettled. "You want your turn?"

Eagerness dawned across Ransom's face, and she noted that his nose was not, in fact, perfect: there was a bump at the top, just at the level of his eyes. "My—my turn?"

"Yeah. You can go jerk off in my bathroom. I even have lotion you can use." She waited for his face to fall in disappointment before snorting. "I'm kidding. Go get me my vibrator out of the drawer in there and bring it here."

"You better not shove anything up my ass," Ransom said before sliding off the bed and making for the bathroom door.

Marta rolled her eyes. "What, too insecure to even try the wonders of the male G-spot?"

"No," Ransom said, coming back in with her plain purple-and-white Durex that she'd bought ten years ago at a Duane Reade, "the prep time is not worth the orgasm. Trust me."

Now that was a fascinating thought. She shelved it for another time. "Lucky for you, nothing is going up your ass today. Lie down."

He gave her a suspicious look, but lay down, and when he dropped the towel she saw he'd been hard for probably as long as it had taken her to get off twice, but before she could focus on that she had to just…take in the size and shape and…all of it. Ransom was fairly well endowed, bigger than most she'd seen (not that she'd seen a lot, and she'd only had PIV sex like…once, in college) and thick enough that she wasn't sure she could close her hand around him. He wasn't circumcised, and the gleaming wet head was dribbling fluid all over his lower belly, flushed dark pink. "Looks painful," she said. "How long have you been waiting?"

"Um," he said, eyes flashing from her to the wall to the vibrator. "Probably since you said that you were gonna do whatever you wanted to me and I had to take it."

"You're such a masochist," she informed him. "You go to those, what, those BDSM clubs?"

"No. Too much risk I'll be recognized—I mean, that was the issue before—" and both eyes shut as he inhaled sharply, annoyed. "Just get me off."

"I don't get off rude little men who demand shit from me," Marta said firmly.

Ransom swallowed, his throat bobbing visibly, and opened his eyes. "Please get me off."

"Maybe I should make a fourth rule. You're not allowed to touch yourself at all unless I'm in the room. You want that?"

"Holy shit," he whimpered, his dick bobbing up and down and leaking even more as his cheeks turned red.

"Yes? We can do that if you keep mouthing off. Anyway." She twisted the base of the vibrator, turning it on a low setting. "I'll tell you what I'm going to do, because I'm feeling generous today. I'm gonna press this against your cock, and you're gonna come with just that. No touching, no other stimulation."

"I can't—coming in my pants was a fluke," he began, jerking his head up and his eyes flying back open, but she clicked her tongue.

"You can and you will. Because when you do, you'll get to touch my tits."

"Ohhh, my God," said Ransom, head falling back onto her bed. "Okay. Okay. I'll try."

"Good boy," she said, and didn't wait for him to answer before gently pressing the vibrator to the base of his cock.

Ransom's hips lifted off the bed and he grunted, a little taken aback by the sensation. "Uh," he said, squeezing his eyes shut. "Feels kinda—nice."

"Good." Marta twisted the vibrator again, kicking the frequency up a notch, and Ransom twitched, gasping a little as she rubbed the smooth surface up and down the underside of his swollen cock.

"How—how many settings, levels—"

"I'm not telling you," she said, pressing the vibrator to just under the base of the head. Ransom yelped in shock and gripped the comforter, every muscle in his arms standing out.

"Huh," he choked.

"You like it?" Marta twisted it again, up to the third level of intensity, and Ransom moaned, outright moaned, and every muscle on his belly bunched up with the effort of remaining in place. "There's plenty more."

"Jee-he-hesus," he panted as she rubbed up and down, up and down. "No—stay, stay up at the t-tip—"

"Like this?" Marta kicked it up another notch and pressed it to the underside of the head again, and Ransom let out a ragged little shout. One of his knees kicked up reflexively, almost hitting her. "You kick me, and I really will make you go jerk off in the bathroom, and no tits for you."

His agony was almost palpable. "Shit, shit, I'm sorry—"

"I know. Shut up." Another twist, up to level five, and he was shaking, teeth bared. The vibrator had ten levels, but Marta wasn't planning on telling him that until after. "You really are an ungrateful, dirty little brat. Out here kicking me when I'm trying to do you a favor." She had an idea, one she'd picked up in med school, but one she'd never tried in the field, so to speak. One hand went down his side, to his crotch, through the rough, dark brown hair there, and behind his balls. Ransom stiffened, but she rubbed circles into his thigh with her thumb until he relaxed as much as he could again, and she stroked the thin skin there gently. "You are gonna come for me," she whispered in his ear, bending down so he could look down her robe, "and you're gonna thank me after." God, she hoped it was true: prostate stimulation can be achieved by pressing on the perineum.

"Please," he choked out, and Marta deftly nudged the vibrator up to another level, then pressed it against the head of his cock and pressed up firmly with her other hand at the same time.

Ransom's reaction was probably the most gratifying thing she'd experienced all year. He jerked his chin up, eyebrows tilted into a little inverted V of ecstasy and mouth dropping into an O of shock as wet ropes of cum splattered across his stomach. "Uhhhh," he groaned, as he kept coming. "Fuuugghh, aaah-ah-ah—" His eyes were wet, and he sucked at his lips as he turned his head back and forth, trembling.

Marta continued milking it for a couple of minutes, until he whimpered with overstimulation, then took her hands away and switched the vibrator off. Ransom was deadweight, flopped out across her bed with tears in his eyes and a red, wet mouth as he blearily sought her out through the haze of euphoria. "Feel better?" she asked.

"Uh," he managed.

"Don't let it be said I never keep my promises." She stripped out of her robe, and that was enough to make him half-sit up, eyes focused as well as he could focus them on her breasts, before she came to lie down beside him. He rolled over with great effort and reached up, cupping one tenderly in a shaking hand.

"Knew you had to be hiding something great under all those ugly shirts," he managed a minute later.

"Say another word about my shirts again and I'll beat you with a wooden spoon."

"Is that a promise?" he asked, a slow, lazy grin spreading across his face.

She smacked him across the chest. "Get up and go get dressed. The living rooms need to be vacuumed."

"Yes, ma'am," he said dutifully, and sat up with a groan. "Anything else you need?"

Marta allowed herself to smile. "I'll think of something. Get to it."

"Yes, Ms. Cabrera," he said, and slipped out of the bedroom, taking the towel with him.

Marta stretched luxuriously. Ransom's End. That would be a good name for this house. She should probably have a big sign made, and wouldn't Mama be shocked when she came home and...

No parties. No boys.

"Shit," she said aloud, and began the guilty scramble to cover all evidence of their sordid hookup, because Mama was back in a week and she was totally fucked if she didn't figure something out right now, but until then...okay, maybe she could push that to the back burner for now and deal with Ransom for another week. Or longer. She could hide him in the shed and just have him putter around at a distance. Mama wouldn't recognize him with the beard and a hat or something. Her eyes weren't great anyway. "What are you thinking?" Marta said under her breath. "You hate Ransom, you hate him, you..."

Telltale nausea curdled in her stomach.

Ten minutes later, she stared into the bathroom mirror, blinking rapidly and washing her mouth out with water as the toilet flushed.

"God dammit," said Marta Cabrera.